Americans' Biggest Gripe About Going to the Movies: Cost

by Joseph Carroll

On average, Americans have seen five films in a movie theater in past year

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- This Christmas, many Americans may be looking forward to unwrapping presents with family around the Christmas tree or attending candlelit church services, but they may also be eagerly anticipating going to see one of the new blockbusters hitting movie theaters over the holiday weekend. Gallup's annual Lifestyle poll finds that Americans report seeing an average of five films in a movie theater in the past year, up slightly from the number reported last year. On average, senior citizens report attending fewer movies than do those who are younger, as do Americans residing in lower-income households in comparison with those in higher-income households. Americans' biggest complaint about going to the movies is the cost.

Movie Dislikes

While movie theaters still capture an audience, it is not uncommon for people to complain about the moviegoing experience. The Dec. 11-14 Gallup Poll asked Americans to name, in their own words, what (if anything) they dislike about going to the movies. The cost of going to the movies is the most-mentioned drawback for Americans; 36% cite this. Americans also mention they dislike the noise or people or kids talking (8%), the inconvenience of going to theaters (8%), and crowded theaters (8%). Eighteen percent of Americans say they dislike nothing about the movies.

What, if anything, do you dislike about going to the movies? 
Dec. 11-14, 2006

%

Cost/Too expensive to go

36

Too Noisy/People, kids talking

8

Rather stay home/Too inconvenient to go

8

Too crowded/Too many people

8

Movies lack quality, variety

4

Seats too uncomfortable/too confining

3

Too much violence/nudity/bad language

3

Too many previews/commercials before movie starts

3

Theaters run down/dirty

2

Cell phones going off during movie

2

Don't like to go alone

1

 

Other

4

Nothing

18

No opinion

7

Cost is also the dominant dislike among moviegoers, with 41% of those who have seen at least one movie in the past year saying they dislike the cost of going to the movies. Among non-moviegoers, 28% mention the cost of going and 13% mention that they would prefer to stay home.

Movie Attendance

The poll also updated Gallup's trend about movie attendance that asks Americans to estimate the total number of movies they have seen in a movie theater in the past year. On average, Americans say they have seen five (5.0) movies in the past year. This average includes 35% who have seen no movies in a theater in the past 12 months, 37% who have seen between one and four films, and 27% who have seen five movies or more. 

The average number of movies that Americans report seeing in a theater has increased from the number reported last year. Americans reported seeing an average of four (3.8) movies in December 2005. Movie attendance was highest in December 2002, when Americans reported seeing an average of six (6.3) movies in a theater; the average was lowest last December.

In 1988, when Gallup first asked this question, 45% of Americans said they had not seen a movie in a theater in the past year. By 1993, this percentage decreased slightly, to 37%. Since then, roughly one in three Americans say they have not seen any movies in a movie theater in the last year.

The latest poll shows that senior citizens are significantly less likely than younger Americans to go to the movies in the theater. On average, Americans aged 65 and older have been to three (2.8) films in a movie theater over the past year, and a majority of senior citizens (56%) have not seen any movies. This compares with five (4.6) films for those aged 50 to 64 and six films for those younger than that (6.2 among 18- to 34-year-olds, 5.7 among 35- to 49-year-olds). Just 23% of 18- to 34-year-olds, 29% of 35- to 49-year-olds, and 38% of 50- to 64-year-olds say they haven't seen any movies in the past year.

There is no difference in movie attendance between men and women. Both men and women saw an average of five films in a theater this year.

Americans who live in higher-income households are more likely to go to the movies than are people living in lower-income households. Among those earning less than $30,000 per year, the average number of movies seen in a theater in the past year is two (2.4). The average for those earning between $30,000 and $75,000 per year is four (4.3) movies and the average for those earning $75,000 or more per year is eight (7.8) movies.

Half of Americans in the low-income group say they have not been to a movie in the past year, compared with 36% of those in the middle-income category and 20% of those in the high-income group.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 11-14, 2006. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

23. How many movies, if any, have you attended in a movie theater in the past 12 months?

None

1
to
4

5 or
more

No
opin-
ion

Mean
(w/
zero)

Mean
(w/o
zero)


Median

%

%

%

%

 

 

 

2006 Dec 11-14

35

37

27

*

5.0

7.7

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006 May 5-7

32

38

30

*

4.1

6.1

2

2005 Dec 5-8

33

42

24

1

3.8

5.7

2

2005 May 20-22

34

38

28

*

4.4

6.6

2

2004 Dec 5-8

30

37

33

*

4.7

6.8

4

2004 Mar 5-7

31

41

28

*

4.1

5.9

2

2003 Dec 11-14

31

45

24

*

4.9

7.0

2

2002 Dec 5-8

28

35

36

1

6.3

8.8

3

2002 Mar 18-20

33

37

29

1

5.0

7.4

2

2001 Mar 16-18

34

40

26

*

4.4

6.6

2

1995 Apr 10-17 ^

34

35

31

--

--

--

--

1994 Mar 11-13 †

34

38

28

--

4.8

7.2

2

1993 Mar 12-14 †

37

35

26

2

4.7

7.5

2

1988 Dec 4-7 †

45

26

29

--

--

--

--

 

^US News and World Report/CNN/IBM/Gallup

†WORDING: "About how many times did you, yourself, go out to a movie theater to see a movie within the past twelve months?"
* Less than 0.5%

24. What, if anything, do you dislike about going to the movies?  [OPEN-ENDED]


2006 Dec 11-14

All
adults


Moviegoers

Non-
moviegoers

%

%

%

Cost/Too expensive to go

36

41

28

Too Noisy/People, kids talking

8

9

7

Rather stay home/Too inconvenient to go

8

5

13

Too crowded/Too many people

8

9

6

Movies lack quality, variety

4

4

5

Seats too uncomfortable/too confining

3

2

4

Too much violence/nudity/bad language

3

3

3

Too many previews/commercials before movie starts

3

4

*

Theaters run down/dirty

2

3

2

Cell phones going off during movie

2

2

1

Don't like to go alone

1

1

2

 

 

 

Other

4

4

3

Nothing

18

17

19

No opinion

7

4

13

Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.
Moviegoers defined as those who have attended at least one movie in the past year.
* Less than 0.5%

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/25990/Americans-Biggest-Gripe-About-Going-Movies-Cost.aspx
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